In a matter decided by the Ethics Commission in December, San Francisco media personality Broke-Ass Stuart (whose real name is Stuart Schuffman) will be fined $2,552 for a violation of the San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code that was committed during his 2015 run for Mayor. True to his moniker, he'll pay the fine in installments.
Campaigning in protest against incumbent Ed Lee and allying himself with other unestablished or stunt candidates Amy Farah Weiss and Francisco Herrera, Broke-Ass Stuart, received 9.6 percent of the final vote tally. The trio, whose slogan was "Vote 1-2-3 to Replace Ed Lee," a reference to the ranked choice ballot, received a collective 31 percent of votes. In the end, Lee won with 55 percent of the vote.
Schuffman tells the Examiner, who reported on the violation, that his action was "not malicious.” Per that paper, for whom Schuffman is also a columnist, the media personality "was speaking on the phone [to the Examiner] amidst New Year’s celebrations at a wilderness ranch in Fresno" that Schuffman described to the Examiner as a "summer camp for adults."
According to the SF Ethics Commission, the problem was that Schuffman used funds from his candidate-controlled committee "for purposes other than his candidacy for Mayor." Money he had raised for one cause, his mayoral campaign, ended up funding another unsuccessful bid, this one 2015's Proposition F, which would have tightened rules surrounding Airbnb. That video is below.
As the Ethics Commission writes, "In the pre-election campaign statement covering the reporting period from September 2015 through October 17, 2015, Mr. Schuffman's candidate committee reported a $1,000 expense relating to the production of a video. Staff has confirmed this expense relates to the video advertisement in support of Proposition F." As for the rest of the money: "In addition, [Schuffman] spent $276 for t-shirts used in the video for a total of $1,276 in expenditures made to support Prop F."
The fine is double that expense, $2,552, paid in two equal installments of $1,276, the first before January 31, 2017 and the second before March 31, 2017. Profiting, as is his schtick, from his status as perpetually cash-strapped, Stuart was able to raise $32,385 in total for his Mayoral campaign, although the Ethics Commission didn't characterize the rest of it as misspent.
Originally, Schuffman's campaign was to be a "journalistic experiment:" He was hoping to write about the experience of running for Mayor from his post as a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. That was a nonstarter. As Schuffman later wrote to his website, "I was supposed to be writing about my campaign in the SF Examiner.... The SF Ethics Commission but the kibosh on that since they said it would break campaign finance laws (for reasons that are too long to go into now)." Those are, briefly, that writing about his mayoral campaign would amount to free press for him.